ExclusiveAccording to a draft document obtained by LBL, the Biden administration plans to allow some Afghan civilians employed by the Taliban government in 1996-2001 to be exempted from terrorism-related bans entering the United States. As part of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the administration continues to bring in tens of thousands of Afghans.
The draft US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) project document reviewed by LBL describes how the Department of Homeland Security is seeking to allow Afghan civil servants serving in the Taliban administration to be exempt from terrorism-related passage. Procedures (TRIG) if they meet other background and screening requirements.
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Trig It places limits on individuals who are members of a terrorist organization or are involved in terrorism, are not allowed in the US and are ineligible for immigration benefits. The USCIS website states that the definition of terrorism-related activity is relatively broad and can be applied to individuals and activities that are not generally thought to be associated with terrorism. This means that TRIG is likely to overthrow those who worked under the Taliban regime, which ruled Al Qaeda in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks from 1996 to 2001 until its ouster from the US.
“Many individuals who worked in civil service positions continued to do so even after the announcement of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 1996,” the document says in the petition’s justification. “Some did so at insistence or other difficult circumstances.”
“Some used their positions in humanitarian capacities to undermine the repressive measures of the Taliban regime, usually at greater personal risk. Some of these civil servants later worked for or helped the International Security Forces, the US government or the Afghan government, on December 22, 2001,” it adds.
The Taliban has regained control of Afghanistan in the wake of the US withdrawal, and the Biden administration is bringing tens of Afghans to the US, including those who have helped the US mission and are considered “at risk.” The administration estimates it will bring approximately 95,000 Afghans this fiscal year.
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The document states that the TRIG Exemption Authority for Afghan Citizens was finalized in the final days of the Obama administration in January 2017, but was never published or applied to any refugee. USCIS says the guidance is now being applied as Afghan citizens seek more filings. The authority allows USCIS officers to exempt unacceptable grounds for terrorism caused by the Taliban’s employment as civil servants between September 1996 and December 2001.
An administration official emphasized to LBL that the memo does not replace the existing screening and verification process, and that law enforcement and counterterrorism officers still inspect, evaluate, and clear each person before entering the US, with exemptions from refugees from countries like the Soviet Union and Cuba. The US may be excluded from accessing Afghanistan in service
“The effect [of the memo] People who work as doctors, grade school teachers, civilians or low-level government employees do not automatically enter the United States because they work in that profession, ”the official said.
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The official told LBL the status of the move was “pre-determined.”
The project document notes that the TRIG exemptions occurred periodically and included exemptions for those who provided material support under the voluntary provisions of medical care and the insistence on membership of several groups. It also states that a person is considered exempt after all background checks and pose have been issued[s] There is no risk to the safety and security of the United States, and other limitation requirements. “
The administration has repeatedly defended what it described as its “multi-layered” inspection and screening processes, and screening and security is carried out by intelligence, law enforcement and counterterrorism officers from multiple agencies. But Republicans have expressed concern over the verification process and the number of Afghans not directly related to the US mission.
Last week, Republicans on the House Steering Committee urged the DHS Inspector General’s Office to investigate the processes and practices behind the evacuation and rehabilitation campaign.